Stamp Terms [A to Z]

Philatelic TermDefinition / Description
A - B
BlockA group of stamps that are still attached to one another.
A minimum of four stamps, two wide and two tall, makes a block.
BookletA small book containing stamps in panes.
C - D
CachetA design or artwork on the left side of an envelope.
Usually found on First Day Covers.
Cancellation A mark applied to a stamp to prevent it from being re-used.

Usually as a postmark, but can include a pen mark, punched hole/s or words over the stamp.

The cancellation words - such as 'cancelled', 'sample' or 'specimen' - can be printed, written or perforated on to the stamp.

Cinderella An item resembling a stamp, but not issued for postal use by a government postal administration.
CoilA strip of stamps, one stamp wide. Usually sold as a roll.
Commemorative Stamp A stamp that celebrates a special event.
CoverAnother word for an envelope or postal wrapper that has a stamp or some other form of payment on it.
Definitive StampA stamp with a standard value for everyday postal use.
Denomination The monetary value printed on a stamp.
DieA flat piece of steel used with an engraving plate to impress a design on to the stamp paper.
E - F
Embossing A form of printing where the design is raised above the surface of the paper.

Embossed Printing is sometimes also referred to as Relief Printing.
Error A stamp printed with a mistake on it.

Examples include:-
printed on the wrong type of paper;
incorrect design applied;
colours or design elements missing.
Essay A trial design of a stamp or other philatelic item.

An essay sometimes differs from the final item released for sale or use by the public.
Fiscal Stamp
Revenue Stamp
Also known as a Revenue stamp.

A stamp used to pay a tax or other government cost.
FoxingSpots and age marks, usually yellow or yellow-brown.
Frama StampA stamp produced by a machine after someone inserts coins of the correct value into the machine.

Also known as a Machine Label.
G - H
Gutter A blank narrow margin of space dividing a sheet of stamps into panes.
Gutter Pair Two or more stamps, on either side of the selvedge between two panes of stamps.
Handstamp A postmark or overprint that has been applied by hand.
HingesSmall pieces of gummed paper used to attach stamps to an album page.
I - J
ImperforateA stamp that does not have little separating holes along its edges.
Imprint An inscription on the margin of a sheet of stamps.

Inscription can include the name, initials or other details of the printer or publisher of the stamps.
Inscription A description, value, country name or other detail inscribed on a stamp.
Inverted Refers to a stamp that has one part of its design printed upside down in relation to the rest of the stamp.
Issue The stamps of a particular design or date.

Sometimes used to describe a particular group or series of stamps.
K - L
Legend Stamp A stamp about a famous person, such as Don Bradman.
M - N
Machine Label A stamp produced by a machine after someone inserts coins of the correct value into the machine.

Also known as a Frama Stamp.
Miniature Sheet
Mini Sheet
A small sheet of stamps, sometimes designed to be part of a larger picture on the sheet.
Mint Refers to a stamp in original condition, exactly as issued.
O - P
OverprintWords or symbols that are printed over the original design.

Sometimes used to change the original value.
O.S. Official Service

Refers to stamps issued solely for official government use.

O.S. can be overprinted or perforated into the stamps.
PaneThe proper name for a sheet of stamps.

Sometimes used to refer to a group of stamps within a sheet.
Perforate A stamp that has little holes along its edges to make it easier to separate it from other stamps on the sheet.
Personalised Stamp
A stamp that you can make with one of your own photographs or other images printed on it.
PhilatelistA person who collects stamps, covers or similar postal material.
Plate Block A block of four or more stamps that has a code (usually numbers) printed on the page margin.
Postal Stationery An envelope, card or aerogram with the postage amount pre-printed on it.
Sold by the post office.
Postmark The official mark that the post office puts over a stamp to show from when and where the item was sent.
Q - R
Revenue Stamp
Fiscal Stamp
Also known as a Fiscal stamp.
A stamp used to pay a tax or other government cost.
S - T
Selvedge The edge or margin of a sheet of stamps (or banknotes).

Often includes printing markings.
Se-tenant Two or more attached stamps with different designs.
Souvenir Sheet A sheet of stamps, usually ten stamps, that celebrates a special theme or event.
Surcharge An overprint applied to a stamp to alter the original face value of that stamp.
Tete-becheSay 'tet-besh' or 'tate-baysh'.

Stamps joined together in head to toe format.
Thematic Stamps
Topical Stamps
Stamps with a common theme, such as animals or space.
U - Z
Variety A stamp that is different from the normal issue.
Watermark A design within the actual paper (as distinct from the design later applied to the paper) .